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The English program at Stratton Mountain School is based on a yearly progression designed to develop students’ skills of expression in reading, writing and speaking through exposure to a diverse range of literature, as well as foundational work in vocabulary and grammar. All students must complete four years of English study, during which they are exposed to a variety of classic and modern literature from a variety of genre. Our writing intensive curriculum is designed to foster skills in written and oral communication and critical analysis of the material students encounter in the classroom and in the worlds they inhabit.

English 7

Seventh grade English focuses on developing writing and interpretive skills through analyzing literature both in oral and written form. Works studied in recent years include The OutsidersA Raisin in the SunTo Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver and the graphic novel Persepolis.

It is the aim of this course to develop analytical and creative writing skills that will allow each student to express his or her opinions and feelings in a thoughtful, concise and accurate manner. To help the students express themselves clearly, Seventh Grade English will build a strong grammatical foundation, reinforced by weekly vocabulary enrichment. 

English 8

Beginning with the 2014 Vermont Reads novel, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio, eighth grade English will delve into literary analysis through the literature of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In addition, short stories from such authors as O. Henry, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Connell, Guy de Maupassant, Susan Glaspell, and Victor Hugo will serve as the basis for studying writer’s craft. Annotation and brainstorming techniques will be required as important elements that prepare students to write a cohesive and intelligent five-paragraph essay. 

In conjunction with the goal of analyzing famous authors’ writing styles, individual written expression and critical thinking will be strongly emphasized. It is the aim of this course to develop analytical and creative writing skills that allow each student to express his or her opinions and feelings. All eighth grade English students will enter the Lincoln Hildene Essay Contest in February 2015, using Russell Friedman’s Lincoln, A Photobiography as a foundation. To help the students express themselves clearly, Eighth Grade English will build a strong grammatical foundation, reinforced by weekly vocabulary enrichment. 

English 9

Beginning with literature from such authors as O. Henry, Edgar Alllan Poe,  Richard Connell, Guy de Maupassant, Susan Glaspell, and Victor Hugo, we will use short stories as the basis for studying the writer’s craft in Ninth Grade English. We use annotation, brainstorming techniques, and a structured model as required elements that prepare students to write a cohesive and intelligent five-paragraph essay.  In addition, students use their literary analysis skills to think more deeply about the themes expressed in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Pearl, as well as Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

In conjunction with literary analysis, the class emphasizes individual written expression that employs similar literary techniques. It is the aim of this course to further develop analytical and creative writing skills that allow each student to express his or her opinions and feelings. To help the students express themselves clearly, Ninth Grade English builds a strong grammatical foundation, reinforced by weekly vocabulary enrichment. With these skills, students will grow in their reading and writing skills, prepared for high school and beyond.

English 10

English 10 is aligned broadly with its sister course in social studies, which during the 10th grade year is American History I, focusing mainly on, but not limited to, colonial and early America. In this course students continue to develop their vocabulary with words derived from the readings, to refine critical and creative writing skills and to hone their language for oral and written literary analysis.  Reading critically is a major focus of the course; thus, students learn to identify and discuss overarching themes, character development, plot structure, and author’s style. Students also learn to identify and employ the predominant rhetorical strategies and literary devices found in prose and verse selections. 

Sophomore English students read the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, novels by Mark Twain and Ken Kesey, and poetry by a wide range of modern and contemporary poets. The Shakespeare selection for Sophomore English is Hamlet. Beyond informal writings, assignments and assessments, which include timed in-class essays, sophomore students will submit several essays, each taken through multiple drafts, one MLA-style-formatted research paper, and a portfolio of their best creative works.

English 11

English 11 begins with a focus on student responses to the summer reading assignments and quickly progresses to our reading and discussion of several of F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories and his classic novel The Great Gatsby. Our exploration of these works is used to develop an understanding of the thesis and to pursue thesis driven arguments in essay form, utilizing our study and evolving understanding of the the various literary elements that inform the works. Students write several essays each quarter with an emphasis on creative, interpretive thought. During the year we will read several works that we will explore for thematic connections, as students continue to develop reading comprehension, compositional and interpretive skills. In addition to the fall quarter’s emphasis on F. Scott Fitzgerald, additional works that we will study this year include Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; and King Lear, by William Shakespeare.  English 11 works in close relation with American History II as we seek to make connections between subject areas and share in projects periodically during the year.

Students are encouraged to be inquisitive, open-minded, and creative readers and thinkers, to ask open-ended questions and then to seek the answers to these questions through the intellectual exploration of the literature we read and the connections we make between the literature and the world around us. By learning to recognize ourselves and those around us in the characters and situations we encounter in literature, and by learning to demand information of the works, we develop a better understanding of the world we inhabit. The development of interpretive and communicative skills through both the spoken word and various written forms is central to our study. English 11 also engages in regular grammar and vocabulary lessons.

English 12

The first three years of Stratton Mountain School’s high school English curriculum introduce students to many of the classic authors in literary history. Students dissect these texts for rhetorical devices and deeper meanings, and the examination of these classics builds the SMS student’s analytical thinking skills. Senior English continue to exercise these analytical skills while studying contemporary writers in an attempt to define the culture in which the students are living. 

Quarter I focuses heavily on essays and articles that examine America and its current place in the world. The curriculum pays close attention to current cultural trends and issues. It is during this time that students examine their lives, their ideas, and their beliefs through the personal essay. Students also read novels by contemporary authors Cormac McCarthy, Khaled Hosseini and Paulo Lins. As students prepare for their educational careers after graduation, thy  complete assignments designed to help them become independent thinkers and learners. 

PG English

This is a course to help students write with greater facility and with increased attention to the design of each piece. Students may choose to focus on narrative essays, mixed media memoir, or fiction. Exercises focus on the organizational strategies that are most effective in each style of writing. The class is informal, allowing participants to work collaboratively and to adapt the assignments to meet their own interests. Readings will be from contemporary prose writers including Joan Didion, Amy Bloom, Linh Dinh, Jhumpa Lahiri, and many others.


The Drama/Public Speaking Course provides the framework for students to develop stronger presentation skills. Through drama and public speaking assignments, students focus on the elements of delivery: Stance, Projection, Articulation, Tone, and Eye Contact. Students act out and dramatically present a short play based on a Greek myth, the folk song “Frankie and Johnny,” and the anonymous literary text, “Please Hear What I’m Not Saying” to prepare for cumulative  presentation: the dramatic reading of  The Rainbow Fish to local kindergarten students and the dramatic reading of their memoirs to local middle school students. The goals are for students to experiment with different vocal inflections, accents, and movement, as well as to become more comfortable presenting in front of an audience.

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